It is important to have a plan in place before an accident occurs so that you are prepared when it happens. These are five things you should do when you have been in an auto accident.

1. Make Sure Everyone Is OK

The first thing you should do is find out if anyone was hurt in the accident. If you or anyone else was seriously injured, you should call 911 or ask someone to do it for you. If the injuries are minor, they can probably wait for an appointment with a doctor. Make note of what type of injuries are being reported at the scene. You may need this information for your Fort Collins accident attorney or insurance company.

2. Get Out of the Road

If you can safely move your vehicle to the side of the road, do so. If your vehicle is disabled, leave it where it is and get yourself and your passengers out of harm’s way. If you plan to move the vehicle, it can be a good idea to take photographs with your cell phone first, so that the accident investigators will be able to assess the position of the cars. If it is dark out and you have emergency road flares or cones, you may want to put them out to make sure other drivers do not hit your or your vehicle.

3. Report the Accident

A police report can be valuable evidence if there is a dispute over who is at fault in the accident. Some states require a police report to be filed and your insurance company may also require it. If no one needs emergency medical attention, you may be able to call the local non-emergency police number to report the accident. In some instances, if there is no officer available and no one is hurt, you may be instructed to file a report at the local police station. Your insurance company will probably want a copy of the report. To save time, ask how you can obtain a copy when you file the report.

4. Exchange Information

If a police officer comes out to the scene, she may facilitate the exchange of insurance information. However, if the other driver is not badly injured or hostile, it is a good idea to ask for their information while you are waiting for the officer to arrive. Otherwise, it is possible the officer may not get the information, or the other driver may get tired of waiting and leave the scene. Ask for the other driver’s name, address, driver’s license number and phone number. Get the name of their insurance company and their policy number. Write down their license plate number, make, model and color of the vehicle and the location of the accident.

5. Document the Accident

Take photos of the vehicles and the scene. Write down the names of the police, everyone involved in the accident and any witnesses and get their contact information.

It is important to take steps to protect yourself, your passengers and your vehicle after an accident. Following these five steps will get you started.

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